Friday, July 27, 2012

So Much Easier This Way

Wiring is much easier when you can tilt the module on the garage floor and not have to worry about hitting your head or squeezing between the bookshelves and the bottom of the layout. Compare this with the last wiring go 'round in my September 1, 2011 post.

Module track work is done. I now have to:
·         Connect the leads
·         Test that everything runs
·         Paint (spray) the track roof brown
·         Ballast the track
·         Put the legs on
·         Raise the original 3 modules 6"
·         Sell off the 4'x8'
·         Move the Woodbury modules up to the loft.

We are going to be here a while!

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Amateurs and the Pros

My next N Scale article is due out in about a month and I emailed David K. Smith of Railwire forum fame and asked him if he would create a sectionalized version of the 4'x8' layout featured in the article (mine was built using Atlas flex-track.) under the assumption some readers with less experience may want to build a similar layout with sectional track. Wow! did I ever get a beautiful rendering back. I have copied his flex-track version below along with my original sketch (which now looks like it was drawn by a third grader).


That's the difference between the amateurs and the professionals. And it can be intimidating to the amateurs. So much so, that they may stop trying.

Take model layouts themselves. Railwire seems to have attracted a lot of the "professional" level (actual and some self-proclaimed) model railroad builders. I just marvel at, with a dropped jaw, their work. You then look at your own efforts and wonder why should I bother showing my work. It just doesn't measure up.

But if you look closer, you realize just how few have achieved that "wow" level. I copied the Railwire membership list into a Microsoft Access database to analyze it (I analyze everything; I counted the average # of posts, etc.) and went through all the ~900 members url's to look at their layouts (most do not have them). I only came up with about 2 dozen "wow" layouts (probably more now since the died Atlas forum invasion - a good thing). I found a heck of a lot more that showed layout attempts that still need significant growth/improvement.

So, instead of being discourage by the "competition", I think modelers need to not give in to the "give up trying" feeling and display their work. It probably resonates more with the average forum reader and encourages them to keep going, more than the "expert's" pictures (although they are still the inspiration standard). And hopefully I should be living proof that the average modeler can get published. If you have a dream and something somewhat unique, there is a niche there waiting for you to publish it.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Blog Anniversary

OK, another excuse to reflect. You would think I was a thinker...which I am really not. Just someone with a lot of minor league ADHD thoughts whizzing through my head. Some pause for a moment, most do not linger.

It has now been a year since I began this blog. What have I learned?
·         that someday I will get even with Dave for planting blog thoughts in my head
·         that blogs are a great way to store information about railroads and modeling that you might want to remember later
·         that blogs can record progress towards your modeling goals - more progress than you would have been able to realize otherwise
·         that blogs force you to learn new talents and techniques (such as learning to take better pictures after you decide you are going to post pictures)
·         that some folks will read anything (how else do you explain the almost 3,000 site hits in the 8 months since I found you could stick a counter on a web page)
·         that blogs force you to wrestle with your thoughts and make them (somewhat) more cohesive (organized) before you write them down (fooled you didn't I!)
·         that spell checkers are invaluable

When I began this endeavor I figured I would attempt to write something once or twice a month but I have managed to put in 40 posts in the past year. A tribute to both the number of random thoughts passing between my ears and the amount of information that friends at the PRSLHS and Railwire have dug up for me.

What I haven't figured out:
·         Who reads this blog? There are only 10 people signed up as followers and most of them are family members who I bent their arms to sign up (but they never read it). I have never gotten any comments or emails about anything. So is it just due to web crawlers that read, organize, and alphabetize everything?
·         At what point do you run out of thoughts? Most blogs I have seen seem to run at of steam somewhere in the 2nd to 4th years.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Good Smells

Ah!  I just love the smell of freshly sawn wood and cork roadbed. I started the first Woodbury module and am experimenting with the module height. The others are at 48" (49") and will be raised 3"-6". I built this one at 54" (+3/4" plywood). I am 6'1" and it was more difficult to nail the roadbed but I want to get some track down and see how it looks. My wife is about 5'5" and the surface comes to about her chin. (She would have the best view (if she even liked trains at all)).

I must admit that the basic construction is one of my favorite parts.  You start with a clean sheet of paper and sketch alternatives (seems like this takes forever), you then make a full size sketch to see if everything fits and then the excitement really begins as your project begins to take shape and life! And the wood just smells so good!

Here are the first Woodbury module construction photos with target prototype locations (i.e. looking at Woodbury from the north and south):

                                                                                   R.L. Long Photo   W.J. Coxey Collection

                                                        Images of America: Woodbury p.45

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Conrail Carloads

Even though this is beyond the pure PRSL years I think this deserves being documented here. My thinking was that the Millville line had the bulk of the traffic. I was definitely wrong.

Quoted from "Mongo" (Gary Evans) July 2nd, 4th, & 10th 2012 on the PRSLHS:

In the mid 1970's, just before Conrail, PRSL moved about 95,476 cars a year. Over 30,000 came to and from the Pennsgrove Branch with its large amount of chemical and plastics traffic.   This means that all the other PRSL lines combined accounted for the other 2/3 of the traffic.

Just before the takeover of Conrail by NS and CSX, Conrail did in fact put most of the former PRSL out for bid for short line operation. The part they wanted to keep, was the Pennsgrove Branch and Pavonia Yard.

Here is some comparative totals for 1973.
            Salem Branch                 6,654 carloads,
            Bridgeton Branch          1,464 carloads,
            Pennsgrove Branch     31,018 carloads,
            Millville Area                8,637 carloads,
            Grenloch Branch          1,300 carloads mostly from Bellmawr Industrial park.

Major shippers on the Beasley's Point line were
            Owens-Corning Fiberglass in Barrington,
            Atlantic City Electric at Beasley's Point &
            Northwest Magnesite at Cape May Point.

The Pennsgrove line had
            2 DuPont Plants,
            Atlantic City Electric Deepwater Power Plant
            Mobil Oil Refinery,
            Plastic plants:
                        Monsanto &
                        B.F.Goodrich  .

Not to mention the large Texaco refinery on the Millville Line in Westville.

This line supported four local freight round trips from Pavonia.
            One to Thorofare,
            One to Paulsboro,
            One to Pedricktown, &
            One to Carney's Point.

Paulsboro also had an assigned switcher on all 3 shifts.

Most of the information here was gleaned from
            the 1st and 2nd Printing of the PRSL book by Frederick A. Kramer and from
            "By Rail to the Boardwalk", which is the Bible on PRSL history.

My personal experience was mostly with Cooper's Point yard, where most of the traffic was for
            Campbell's soup & RCA.
            There was a team track where other stuff was unloaded, occasional cars for Weeks Marine Co, and even a ramp    where I saw salt being unloaded for the Camden City Highway Dept.

Grenloch branch: 1,872 carloads
          Bellmawr Industrial Park:       1,765
          Mt. Ephraim lumber yard:                 44
          Glendora Delaware Valley Box:         63
(From Reading Seashore Lines book by WJC)

It seems if it wasn't for the Bellmawr Industrial Park, the Grenloch Branch may have disappeared.
While it's true that the Pennsgrove line has lost some business, like the Shell Plant and coal for Atlantic City Electric, the new Pureland Industrial Park served by SMS switching line has added quite a bit of new business and is only about 50% developed.

PRSL's territory was mostly a consuming area. More stuff came in than went out except for sand and chemicals.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Next Up - Woodbury #1

Well the article on the 4'x8' is scheduled for the Sept/Oct issue of N Scale Magazine so I guess it is time to start on the next module. I can work on it in the garage for the time being.

I taped sheets of paper together for a 16" wide by 12' long paper mock-up of the track plan to makes sure the trackage will fit. I can do what I need to do in about 10'.

The gentleman with the 1948 PRSL track charts has never made them available so I am going to guess about the final track layout. I would like to model Woodbury when it still had at least 2 mainline tracks. My notes only go back to 1960 and there was only 1 mainline track left then.

I will probably go back a little further to when Woodbury had 3 mainline tracks and guess on the arrangements. Especially after finding the 1954 passenger schedule and seeing the PRSL was still running 6 passenger trains each way. (The Eddie Fells diagrams have 4 sidings at the station and I do not want that much clutter.)

Unfortunately the passenger meets with Salem and Penns Grove branches stopped in 1950. That would really make things really hectic/interesting during the A.M. traffic rush hour.

Anyway here is what I am going with for the time being:

The Woodbury modules will probably eventually go along the other wall. But for now I don't have the money to tear out the wall desk and patch the walls so I will initially place them mid-room (following the departure of the 4'x8').

I will work on the initial 16"x6' module using a box frame like the other modules. The second Woodbury module will probably need to be L-girder construction since I will have to bury the Salem/Deepwater branches as they head to staging.

OK where did I leave my hammer last?   :-)